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Renewable Energy – Recast to 2030 (RED II)

In November 2016, the European Commission published its ‘Clean Energy for all Europeans’ initiative. As part of this package, the Commission adopted a legislative proposal for a recast of the Renewable Energy Directive. In the context of the co-decision procedure, a final compromise text among the EU institutions was agreed in June 2018. In December 2018, the revised renewable energy directive 2018/2001/EU entered into force.

OVERALL TARGET

In RED II, the overall EU target for Renewable Energy Sources consumption by 2030 has been raised to 32%. The Commission’s original proposal did not include a transport sub-target, which has been introduced by co-legislators in the final agreement: Member States must require fuel suppliers to supply a minimum of 14% of the energy consumed in road and rail transport by 2030 as renewable energy.

The Directive 2009/28/EC specifies national renewable energy targets for 2020 for each country, taking into account its starting point and overall potential for renewables. These targets range from a low of 10% in Malta to a high of 49% in Sweden.

EU countries set out how they plan to meet these 2020 targets and the general course of their renewable energy policy in national renewable energy action plans.

Progress towards national targets is measured every two years when EU countries publish national renewable energy progress reports.

SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA

The RED II defines a series of sustainability and GHG emission criteria that bioliquids used in transport must comply with to be counted towards the overall 14% target and to be eligible for financial support by public authorities. Some of these criteria are the same as in the original RED, while others are new or reformulated. In particular, the RED II introduces sustainability for forestry feedstocks as well as GHG criteria for solid and gaseous biomass fuels.

Default GHG emission values and calculation rules are provided in Annex V (for liquid biofuels) and Annex VI (for solid and gaseous biomass for power and heat production) of the RED II. The Commission can revise and update the default values of GHG emissions when technological developments make it necessary. Economic operators have the option to either use default GHG intensity values provided in RED II or to calculate actual values for their pathway.

Greenhouse gas savings thresholds in RED II
Plant operation start date Transport biofuels Transport renewable fuels of non-biological origin Electricity, heating and cooling
Before October 2015 50% - -
After October 2015 60% - -
After January 2021 65% 70% 70%
After January 2026 65% 70% 80%

While biofuels are important in helping the EU meet its greenhouse gas reductions targets, biofuel production typically takes place on cropland that was previously used for other agriculture such as growing food or feed. Since this agricultural production is still necessary, it may lead to the extension of agriculture land into non-cropland, possibly including areas with high carbon stock such as forests, wetlands and peatlands. This process is known as indirect land use change (ILUC). As this may cause the release of CO2 stored in trees and soil, indirect land use change risks negating the greenhouse gas savings that result from increased biofuels. To address the issue of ILUC in the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, the revised renewable energy directive introduces a new approach.

It sets limits on high ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels with a significant expansion in land with high carbon stock. These limits will affect the amount of these fuels that Member States can count towards their national targets when calculating the overall national share of renewables and the share of renewables in transport. Member states will still be able to use (and import) fuels covered by these limits, but they will not be able to include these volumes when calculating the extent to which they have fulfilled their renewable targets. These limits consist of a freeze at 2019 levels for the period 2021-2023, which will gradually decrease from the end of 2023 to zero by 2030.

The directive also introduces an exemption from these limits for biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels certified as low ILUC-risk.

For the implementation of this approach, as required by the directive, the Commission has adopted the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/807, following the two-month period of scrutiny for the European Parliament and the Council as defined under the standard EU comitology procedure.

This delegated act sets out specific criteria both for:

  • determining the high ILUC-risk feedstock for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high carbon stock is observed; and 
  • certifying low ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels. 

The Commission has also adopted an accompanying report on the status of production expansion of relevant food and feed crops worldwide, based on the best available scientific data. This report provides information that member states can use in conjunction with the criteria set out in the delegated act in order to identify high ILUC-risk fuels and certify low ILUC-risk fuels.

ADVANCED BIOFUELS

Within the 14% transport sub-target, there is a dedicated target for advanced biofuels produced from feedstocks listed in Part A of Annex IX. The contribution of advanced biofuels and biogas produced from the feedstock listed in Part A of Annex IX as a share of final consumption of energy in the transport sector shall be at least 0,2 % in 2022, at least 1 % in 2025 and at least 3,5 % in 2030.

Member States may exempt fuel suppliers supplying fuel in the form of electricity or renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin from the requirement to comply with the minimum share of advanced biofuels and biogas produced from the feedstock listed in Part A of Annex IX with respect to those fuels.

Feedstocks for the production of biogas for transport and advanced biofuels, the contribution of which towards the minimum shares referred to in the first and fourth subparagraphs of Article 25(1) may be considered to be twice their energy content.

For the calculation of the numerator, the share of biofuels and biogas produced from the feedstock listed in Part B of Annex IX shall, except for in Cyprus and Malta, be limited to 1,7 % of the energy content of transport fuels supplied for consumption or use on the market. Member States may, where justified, modify that limit, taking into account the availability of feedstock.

CAPS AND MULTIPLIERS

The share of biofuels and bioliquids, as well as of biomass fuels consumed in transport, where produced from food and feed crops, shall be no more than one percentage point higher than the share of such fuels in the final consumption of energy in the road and rail transport sectors in 2020 in that Member State, with a maximum of 7 % of final consumption of energy in the road and rail transport sectors in that Member State.

Fuels produced from feedstocks with “high indirect land-use change-risk” will be limited by a more restrictive cap at the 2019 consumption level. The share of high indirect land- use change-risk biofuels, bioliquids or biomass fuels produced from food and feed crops for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high-carbon stock is observed shall not exceed the level of consumption of such fuels in that Member State in 2019, unless they are certified to be low indirect land-use change- risk biofuels, bioliquids or biomass fuels pursuant to this paragraph. From 31 December 2023 until 31 December 2030 at the latest, that limit shall gradually decrease to 0 %.

Press release on High-ILUC DA.

Renewable electricity will count 4 times its energy content towards the 14% renewable energy in transport target when used in road vehicles, and 1.5 times when used in rail transport. The Commission will also develop a framework to guarantee that the renewable electricity used in transport is in addition to the baseline of renewable electricity generation in each Member State.

Fuels used in the aviation and maritime sectors can opt in to contribute to the 14% transport target but are not subject to an obligation. The contribution of non-food renewable fuels supplied to these sectors will count 1.2 times their energy content.